QueryTracker Blog

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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Challenges and Rewards of Self-Publishing: An Interview

Here on the QueryTracker Blog, we often talk about publishing in a traditional way: seeking out an agent, who then finds a home for your story with a publishing house. But more and more authors are taking non-traditional approaches to publishing, and there are lots of options out there! Today we talk with our own Danyelle Leafty about her journey with self-publishing her series, The Fairy Godmother Dilemma. Read on to learn about the challenges and rewards of non-traditional publishing!

You decided to go the non-traditional publishing route with your trilogy The Fairy Godmother Dilemma. Why?

With the publishing industry going through some major changes, I wanted to approach [publishing my book] in as many different ways as possible so as not to put all my eggs in one basket.

When I learned about people releasing their novels as serials, I thought this would be an interesting way to get a book out there. The Fairy Godmother Dilemma: Catspell is the book I wrote specifically for this purpose.

One of the big challenges of non-traditional publishing is that the author is responsible for everythingfrom book artwork to formatting the digital book files to marketing. Can you talk a little bit about these challenges?

I’ve actually loved doing all of these things—which kind of surprised me. I don’t mean to say this isn’t a whole lot of work—it is—but I’ve enjoyed learning how to do new things even if I wanted to drop my computer out the window when I hit bumps.

I’ve been very fortunate in finding stock art for my cover that was perfect in terms of character and tone of the book. I was even more fortunate that there are some incredible Photoshop and Indesign tutorials on Youtube. :) The part I dreaded the most was coding the files, but Scrivener (the writing program I use) came out with an update that compiled manuscripts into digital files without the author having to do all the coding.

Marketing, I think, is the hardest for me. I’m still working on finding a balance between getting my name out there without turning into a commercial. I’m still fine-tuning my approach and will be putting it to work in February. For now, I’m just focusing on getting the series polished and up.

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve liked best about self-publishing.

The thing I’ve liked best about self-publishing is the control I have over my story. I’ve enjoyed putting everything together and learning new things. I’ve also loved getting to know new people along the way.

What have you liked least?

The thing I’ve liked least is the dividing line between the different avenues of publishing. Publishing is a hard business, and I like to think we’re all in this together.

What advice would you give others considering the self-publishing route?

Don’t do it unless you mean it. What I mean by this is don’t self-publish to make a million dollars, to prove anyone wrong, or because it’s easier. (It’s not. I promise!) If you’re going to self-publish, do it deliberately. Have a good plan, be willing to work hard, very hard, and educate yourself on the process and the business. Make sure you put out your very best.

There will be times when you’re so tired you can’t see straight, you put the milk in the oven, and you forget what your name is. There will be times when you want to pull your hair out and give up. There will be times when you really wonder if it’s worth all this.

And there will be times when it all comes together and you know it was. The key is being true to yourself and focusing on the positive while learning from the mistakes you make. (Be flexible! Things can and will go wrong, but that’s all part of the business.)

Some people feel that self-published material may be poorer quality than traditionally-published material. How do you combat that prejudice?

The short version is that I work very, very, very hard. I combat that prejudice by adjusting my thinking and my actions.

Thinking: I’ve determined that the only person I’ll ever be competing against is myself. I strive to make sure each book I put out is better than the one before, and will not release a book unless I feel it’s ready. I had originally planned on releasing the whole series in November (I’d had most of them written and completed long before), but as time went on, I realized that in order to make that deadline, I’d have to work myself to death and risk putting something out riddled with errors.

Which leads to my actions. Because self publishers are in charge of doing everything, it’s vital they don’t skim over the finer details. Editors, or at least really honest, very talented beta readers, are a must. No author can catch all of her own mistakes or weak points.

To be seen professionally, it’s important to act professional and make sure the total package of the book is at a professional standard. This means good cover art, good editing—both line and content, a great synopsis, and professional comportment online.

This also comes with the understanding that no book is perfect, no matter how many editors have edited it, and no book is going to appeal to everyone. And that’s okay.

Tell us a bit about your story and how we can get it!

The official synopsis is:

Sixteen-year-old Breena never thought anything could be worse than being forced to leave the faerie realm. Then she got stuck with a fairy godmother. But if she has to choose between the two, she’d leave the Faerie Realm over getting bossed about by a faerie with a pointed stick any day. Unfortunately, her attempt to evade her fairy godmother gives her growing pains in the form of fur, whiskers, and a tail. 
Turning into a cat is the least of her worries, though. The potion wasn’t meant to bring out her inner feline, it was meant to put her to sleep. Forever. If Breena wants to make it to her Happily Ever After, she’ll have to accept that sometimes a fairy godmother really does come in handy, after all.

Catspell is a fairy tale retelling of The White Cat with a few twists *coughcoughcrazycatscough* and a fairy godmother. It’s the first in a series of five. The first 3 books are available now, and I hope to have books 4 and 5 up and ready to go by February.

The Fairy Godmother Dilemma: Catspell is available on B&N and Amazon as e-books.

I’m planning on either doing a print run or releasing the paperback through POD (publishing on demand) mid-2012. I also have some hard cover copies I’m having printed as part of the serial, but will only be releasing a limited number of those through my website. Each of those will be signed and numbered!

Thanks so much for the interview! It’s been a pleasure.

Thanks to you, Danyelle!

Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD's book, THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment, and Human Behavior helps writers avoid common misconceptions and inaccuracies and "get the psych right" in their stories. You can learn more about The Writer's Guide to Psychology, check out Dr. K's blog on Psychology Today, or follow her on Facebook or Google+


Unknown said...

Excellent interview!

Laura Pauling said...

Wonderful interview. I love hearing publishing stories. I'll have to look into Scrivener. I have it but not sure about the udpate!

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban said...

Great interview!

Thank you so much Dayelle for your candid answers. As I'm considering self-publishing myself even after I got an offer from my publisher, your information was doubly appreciated it.
Your book sounds awesome.
Best of luck.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

Great interview.

You're very brave in my opinion, Dayelle, to go the self-publishing route. I don't think I could ever do it, myself. Just the thought of everything involved rather makes my head spin.

Stina said...

Great interview! I didn't know Scrivener could do that.

You've got some great points here, Danyelle.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! Yes, a writer must be serious and on-board with all aspects of playing publisher. Instead of being the "butcher, baker and candlestick maker," you get to be writer, editor, publisher and marketeer. The self-publishing experience has been very rewarding, and I commend anyone who takes the step toward publication on their own.

amberargyle said...

I've considered self pubbing before. The work load is rather daunting.

Danyelle L. said...

Thanks, Nisa! :) And thanks, Carolyn for the excellent questions. :D

Thanks, Laura. The update is definitely worth it! :)

Thanks, Carmen! And best of luck to you! :D

Thanks, Dominique. :) When I first considered it, I didn't think I'd be able to do it all either. (And some days I still wonder. ;-)) But now that I'm in the thick of it, I've discovered that I really enjoy doing this. Every person's and every book's path is different though. :D

Thanks, Stina! :) Now, all Scrivener needs to do is dishes and laundry and I'm all set. O:)

Thanks, Julie! :) I agree 100%.

Thanks for stopping by, Amber. :) Self-publishing is definitely not for the faint of heart. But even though it's a lot of work, I've come to enjoy doing it too. Most of the time. :p